Last time, on Doom, Despair, and Dark Souls, I am finally forced to retreat from a challenge. And in doing so, my life has been ruined. I have brought shame upon my family, who have rightfully disowned me in response. My friends now refuse to make eye contact as they pass me in the street. Even strangers are afraid of catching my dishonour, and stay away from my poor broken shell. I have become a husk of a man. A beautiful husk, but a husk nonetheless. Can I redeem myself? Read on to find out!
The first step in my redemption takes me to the Depths. It’s a good long walk from Darkroot Garden and through the Undead Burg before I finally reach the entrance, but I find I do really need the time to think. Specifically, I have to decide whether to actually go through with this. Yes, conquering the Depths would be the first step in putting the pieces of a life shattered by my cowardice back together. Yes, until I get through it my life will be forever marred by shame. Yes, if I don’t redeem myself by facing down the challenges herein, the only human interaction I’ll see for the rest of my life will be people spitting on my fly-infested corpse. On the other hand, sewer level. I really really really really hate sewer levels!
My hate does not overpower my need for redemption, however, and I descend through the door in the Lower Undead Burg. Before I can get my bearings, I’m greeted by their welcoming committee.
I return the sentiment.
With these simple zombies being the first challenge I face, it’s obvious that Darkroot Garden is on a whole other level from where I was actually supposed to be going. I’ve been fighting these guys since the beginning of the game! Throwing them at me now? Please.
That’s not to say the area’s lacking in new enemies, though. Through a window in this stairway, I spy a large being, seems to be a butcher of some sort, waiting on a small outcropping. Probably for some unsuspecting sap to pass beneath him unawares. Well, I’m sure you’ll agree that I am the most suspecting sap, so I decide to turn his game around on him, and shoot him in the head using my patented ‘fire an arrow without ever pulling back on the drawstring’ technique I apparently picked up somewhere without knowing. He tries to charge me in response, apparently forgetting that there’s not actually ground in front of him. I wait for him to make his way back up to me, but he seems to have gotten a bit lost. What a loser.
Heading down from that stairwell leads to a dining area. You know, this place is looking delightfully non-sewery. I don’t know what I was so worried about. More zombies here. I smash them. Then I smash all the barrels and crates in the room, because you never know when they’re going to strike. I also smash all the furniture, because honestly, by this point it just seemed like the right thing to do.
The dining area looks over two other rooms. The first seems to be a kitchen, with another of those butchers chopping up meat of disturbingly vague depiction. On the other side is a hallway where that butcher I shot earlier seems to have gotten stuck.
I drop down to face the latter. He’s strong, as his appearance might suggest. He’s also slow, and his range is surprisingly limited given the size of his weapons. Our battle is shamefully inelegant, I must admit. We mostly just trade blows, going hit for hit, and he’s able to take out a large amount of my life. My shield does turn the battle in my favor, though, and it only takes a few hits for him to go down.
I venture into that room the butcher seemed to have been watching over, and am stunned at what I see. It’s absolutely filled with my most dangerous, my most hated, my most sickening enemy. In fact, it seems that one of them has captured an innocent passerby, holding him for the butchers to devour alive. I tell you, any lesser man would have fled immediately, or perhaps begged those dread beings for their lives, but I have experienced that shame once already, and I will never face it again. Instead, I launch into a flurry, swinging my black knight blade as swiftly as I can, knowing that should I ever cease, it will mean my life.
Cutting through the dread barrels, I finally reach my captive in the back of the room, surprisingly without a scratch on me. I kick him free, and finish off the rest of the barrels in the room. He introduces himself as Laurentius of Great Swamp, and swears he will not forget his debt to me. I assure him it is no debt, that I will save anyone from the evils of barrels no matter where I find them, but he remains yet thankful.
A crack in the wall shows me this flooded area with on of those attack dogs in it. Exploration on my mind, I drop down into the knee-high water. A zombie rushes in and strikes me from my blind spot to the left. One swing of my sword punishes her for it, and cuts down the dog soon after. I head up the stairs from their and find myself in the kitchen, butcher still cutting away at her meat with two of those attack dogs standing guard over her.
For whatever reasons, the dogs in this area have a really shortened zone of awareness. They won’t react to my presence until I’m right on top of them. This makes it easy for me to cut the two of them away without drawing any attention myself, leaving behind the other butcher. Now that I know her moves, she makes for even less of a challenge than her partner. It’s simply a matter of ducking away from her attacks, and waiting for her to overcommit. When she does, my blade strikes true.
I get the butcher’s sack hood for my troubles. I think I’ll stick to my helm, thanks. I also get a large ember, which lets Andrei upgrade my gear past the previous ceiling, and I find a small shield with a spider’s crest on it down the waste chute behind her cooking area.
I make my way up to the hallway again, and from there down into some flooded ruins. I find a corpse with something shiny on it. Yet when I approach…
Everything goes dark. Well, slimes are a necessary part of any epic adventure, right? I take some damage from its surprise attack, dropping on me from the ceiling, then throw it off. There, it has a huge amount of defense, but is incredibly slow, telegraphing every attack heavily. I’m able to dodge away in time, and keep the pressure up on it until it falls. The corpse just gives me some souls.
Heading further on, I find myself in a hallway. There’s a zombie with a torch at the end of it, but otherwise, it looks clear. Then again, with those slimes around…
Yep. I’m able to drop them early with arrows, springing their trap. On the ground… well, their numbers don’t make them any less slow.
There’s a door at the end of the hallway as well as a stairway leading down. I take the door first, and find a bonfire. I’ve got my checkpoint for this area. Heading down the stairs leads me to an area with a grated floor. And through an opening, I spy…
Ew. Ew ew, ew ew ew, ew ew ew. Massive blasted rat with one eye. You know, this is looking more and more like a sewer level every second. I can’t get to the rat through this area, so I keep heading downward, and pass through a doorway.
BAHCRAPPIT! This is a blasted sewer level! The rats flee from me for now, but I vent my frustration by killing them anyway.
Look at this. Just look at this. This is absolutely disgusting. Why do game designers keep thinking people just have a burning desire for the sewer?! Unless there’s some Ninja Turtles down here, the only thing your accomplishing is making me wade through human waste. Just…. ew.
On a side note, though, this area would be a whole lot harder if the shin high water slowed us down like it normally would. Luckily, we’ve got the ring from the Northern Asylum that lets us move through this just as easily as air. Looks like Harliqueen made the right call several updates ago, sending us to the Asylum first.
We’ve got rats of various sizes here. We’ve faced the small ones before, and these large ones act pretty similar, just with more of everything. They take more hits, do more damage, and push my poison resistance more. They’re still easy enough though. And there’s that big guy in the back. Still no way for me to reach him, but I’m sure we’ll be trading blows soon enough.
Pressing on further, I find a fog gate, but decline to go through, instead heading through another passageway to the side.
This turns out to be a big mistake, as there’s an open drain in the sewage before me. I fall through and collapse in a stream of human refuse below, with more of the foul stuff raining over me. Ugggggh! It got in my armor!
A new enemy quickly scurries around the corner towards me, one of Dark Souls most feared foes, the basilisk. It looks cartoonishly out of place in this game, with giant bobbly eyes, and puffing up like a balloon before it attacks. However, its Hannah-Barbara guise belies the fact that this is one of the few enemies in the game that can curse you. Being cursed kills you instantly and cuts your max HP in half until you can get it cured. In a game where one or two hits from even the weakest foes could easily take down half your hit points, this is pretty much a death sentence, and to my knowledge it’s the only status effect that dying doesn’t cure.
Luckily for me, this guy’s pretty fragile and dies in a single hit. I suppose that’s some consolation for making a Looney Tune one of the deadliest enemies in this grimdark video game.
I head onward, and reach a T-intersection. The path to the left leads through some rats, while the path right requires cutting through some basilisks. I’m still paying for the last time I backed down from a challenge, so the basilisks it is.
The basilisks are behind a fence, and run away when I approach. Sensing a trap, I advance cautiously. A wise move, it turns out, as the two of them are waiting to ambush me from around the corner. Darting out, I catch the first one with my blade before he can react. The second dashes away, leaving a cloud of gray curse dust behind her and catching me in it as I pursue. With the curse quickly overcoming my resistance, I manage to roll out of the cloud just before my body petrifies. I cut down the basilisk before she has another go. This curse business is no joke. My armor doesn’t boost my resistance against it like it does nearly everything else, so I can’t take more than a brief moment of exposure before falling.
Pressing onward, I come across this area here, with a basilisk and a corpse beneath me. I get the drop on the basilisk, killing it before it has a chance to move, and collect the treasure there. The Ring of the Evil Eye, it regenerates HP with each kill. I try it out, and unfortunately, it seems to drain my HP while I have it equipped. Considering how much I’ve thinned out the enemies in this area already, I may not be able to find enough now to keep my health up.
Here, we see the petrified husks of other players slain by the basilisks. I’ve been lucky enough to not leave such a mark in another player’s world yet. Perhaps because nobody really wants to go to a sewer level, this is one of the first signs of other players in this area I’ve seen so far.
I double back, and take the rat filled-path I passed up on before. I won’t narrate it here, because really, if you want to watch someone fighting rats in a sewer, you can just go ahead and plug in any RPG ever made yourself. Suffice to say, I eventually end up in this hall here.
After killing two rats and two slimes, I meet Domhnall of Zena here. He’s a trader, willing to buy and sell goods, although at the time it seems that neither of us have much the other’s interested in. He carries some extremely powerful weapons that are fragile and can’t be repaired, as well as the strange armor he’s wearing. I take the chance to restock on some arrows, however, and he’s kind enough to warn me that I’ll need divine weapons to take on skeletons in the Catacombs, else they’ll keep reforming. I imagine that will come into play in the near future.
Also, here’s a small business development tip for everyone. Don’t try to sell stuff in the sewer. No matter how good your wares, you’re not going to get good traffic there.
Past Domhnall, I find this gate. Locked, of course, because if you wanted things to be easy, you wouldn’t be playing Dark Souls.
Through a path in the hall, I find myself in this old, ruined… I’m not actually sure what this was supposed to be. In any case, heading down, I find the other side of that fog gate earlier and open it up. Heading upwards I find… myself being shot at! It’s another of those Channelers, which we faced before in the Undead Parish. He’s far away, and the controls really aren’t set up for me to be able to return fire, so I just ignore him for now. Heading underneath him means he can’t hit me there anyways.
I return through the fog gate, finding myself nearly at the beginning of the sewer area. Taking a path I neglected last time leads me upwards through some really tight corridors, and I find myself at another T-intersection. Taking the left path first, I stumble upon the Channeler again, this time in easy smacking range.
That said, I don’t really feel like breaking with tradition and actually giving this guy a fair fight. I use the same strategy I did last time; positioning myself around a doorway so that his blasts explode against the frame while I launch arrows safely into his left arm until he dies. Fair play is for suckers and people who aren’t playing Dark Souls.
I take the other path by that intersection, and find myself, finally, in the giant Rat’s room. I try to cheap shot her a bit, just firing my arrows and retreating into the doorway, but she’s actually fairly good at staying in places I can’t safely hit. The few shots I do manage to get off result in my almost getting caught in her charge, and do almost negligible damage.
The only way I’m going to make it forward is through a direct fight, so I take care to make it an absolute brawl. There’s no strategy or elegance to our following battle, I just wade into her, swinging. She does the same to me. As you might guess, she does a lot more damage than your average rate, and she pushes me around when I catch her hits on my shield. She doesn’t have much in the way of vitality though, and my indiscriminate attacks drop her life in a hurry. In the end, it’s a race to the bottom, both of us striking with no regards to our own health.
I do actually have to break away to heal, diving back into the tunnel I entered from, which she’s much to large to fit into. This turns out to be the breaking point, as she pursues but stops short outside of striking distance. With the protection of the tunnel around me, I’m able to make a few hits without risk of retaliation, and that’s enough to finish her off. I earn a humanity item and a small bit of treasure for my troubles.
At this point, the only place I have left to explore is the bottom of that ruined wall area. I trek that direction, making my way there safely as literally everyone else in the area is all dead. I find a fog gate at the bottom of the wall, leading to the collonade area it looks over. A note on the ground warns me that the boss is ahead. I brace myself, and step through.
At first, all is silent. Then, something starts climbing out of the pit in front of me.
Awwww! He’s cute! Just look at him, some sort of snake-alligator thing! That tiny head is so adorable! Maybe I’ll keep him as a peauuuuUUUUUUUUUUUUUUAUAUAAAAAAAAA
The nasty, nasty gaping dragon starts the battle by charging me, head down. Then, he rears up his upper body, his posture seeming like it could slam it down at any moment. I duck to his side, thankful once again for the ring that lets me move through water without a penalty. I score a couple hits to his side, although I do still have to watch out for his pounding legs. Then, a weird sort of acid starts filling the area around him, and I’m not able to get away in time. The dragon follows this up by flying up for a second then slamming back down, hitting me even though I swear my hitbox should have been well clear. I break away, trying to give myself space to heal, but the dragon keeps the pressure on, and one final hit spells my doom.
Luckily, the entrance isn’t all that far from the last checkpoint, if you know where to go. I quickly return and engage the dragon once more.
The strategy is mostly the same as last time; dodge his initial charge, then open up a clinic to his side. I keep a better eye out for his tells, though, and this time, I’m able to dodge well enough to drop him to about ¼ hp relatively unmolested.
He follows that up by striking with a move I don’t recognize. Unable to interpret the new telegraph, I don’t dodge away from his grasping claw in time. He hoists me up, toys with me for a while, then freakin’ DEVOURS ME WHOLE! Surprisingly, given how many teeth he has, I’m able to fight my way out alive. In fact, it really doesn’t do nearly as much damage as you’d expect. At least physically. Even so, I just feel so violated.
I don’t even bother healing, I go right back to the dragon’s side to deliver more punishment. The dragon can’t take much more, and falls after a few hits. I take the key to Blighttown as my reward.
I allow myself a moment of self-congratulation. I went through this whole area, in one of the hardest modern games out there, and I only died once. Then it occurs to me that if I had taken the time to cut off the dragon’s tail, I’d have myself a nice souvenir weapon to commemorate my victory, and all of a sudden I’m not so proud of myself.
Still, I won! That means my honor is restored! That means girls might actually like me again! And that means I can finally, finally, get out of this blasted sewer level.